Too often we react rather than respond in our conversations. The result is a costly drain on our energy, a strain on our relationships, and a stain on our credibility. All of these impacts reduce the productivity of our teams, be they in the workplace, at our places of worship or service, or at home.
Here's a set of contrasts that might help you consider this pattern of behaviour and its consequences more clearly.
Being cranky is driven by being irritated and frustrated. You feel locked in, without any options. You think you've lost control, unable to do anything about the situation.
Being contentious is driven by the need to be right, to be in control, to be the expert and the master. You feel that you have the solutions to all the problems. You think others are wrong, wanting to do things that will endanger the enterprise. You must make your point and make it stick.
Being coercive is driven by the need to win, to triumph, to come out on top and be the boss. You feel that you have the right to rule. You think others should follow because of your superior training, or experience, or wisdom. You insist on getting your way.
Being calm arises from a humble confidence in the capacity of you and your colleagues to make the best of any situation. It is filled with the hope that things can be improved and with the energy of collaborating in doing just that.
Being curious arises from a genuine belief in the power of community to generate conversations that create new possibilities. The future is not defined or confined by the past. The present is the moment in which new potential emerges through your conversations.
Being considerate arises from using both your head and your heart to assess which of the options that emerge from your conversations will best serve both the purpose and the people involved. It's about building alliances rather than forcing compliance.
Reactivity, in short, will isolate you and responsiveness will connect you. Connected people form productive teams, attract and retain others to contribute their best, and generate bottom lines that will keep the enterprise moving forward.
Where would you put yourself today on each of these continuums? Where would you like to be? How can you manage your next series of conversations to get there?
You can always change your attitudes and behaviours to generate more desirable consequences. I know all too well that this is not always easy. It takes intention and support. But it is possible. Give it a try.